The broken promises of the social investment market
The United Kingdom is pioneering a new model for the delivery of public services, based around the device of a social investment market. At the heart of this social investment market is an innovative new financial instrument, the social impact bond (SIB). In this paper we argue that the SIB promises (partial) solutions to four aspects of the present multifaceted crisis: the crisis of social reproduction; the crisis of capital accumulation; the fiscal crisis of the state; and the crisis of political legitimacy. In this sense, we conceive the social investment market as a crisis management strategy. We draw on evidence from the world’s first SIB, the Peterborough SIB, launched in 2010, as well as from other SIBs, in order to assess the extent to which the social investment market delivers on its four promises. In doing so, we argue that the crisis of neoliberalism and the social investment market are not only in historical correspondence, but in a relation of causality to one another. In developing this argument, this paper contributes to contemporary theories of neoliberalism by investigating how concrete state developments and societal restructuring is being advanced around the idea of linking marketization with progressive social change. It also supports critical practitioners by offering a theoretical lens to identify the contradictions of this increasingly popular policy approach.
Citation : Harvie, D. and Ogman, R. (2019) The broken promises of the social investment market. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, 51 (4), pp. 980–1004
Peer Reviewed : Yes